NCWA blog shines a spotlight on the writing journey of: A LOVE SO GREAT, A GRIEF SO DEEP by Marlene Anderson, published by Xulon Press. See book giveaway details at end of post.
When my husband was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor I began to journal. Journaling helps to clarify emotions, thoughts and helps make sense of what is happening. In the process of articulation you begin to heal through the pain. Journaling continued after he died and God met me every day in the healing process.
It was never intended for a book – but God had a different plan. At some point this journey became more than therapy and my thoughts demanded a voice in print. One day an email ad from Xulon Press arrived offering a “deal” to self-publish. I felt God’s strong hand on the scuff of my neck saying “Now – publish it.”
With fear, trepidation and the help of an editor friend and former English teacher who held my feet to the fire, I sent in the completed manuscript then cried, “What have I done? I have made myself vulnerable to the entire world.”
But that was God’s plan – to share with others how vulnerable we feel when we grieve. To share the pitfalls, twists and turns through the healing/recovery process, and the time it takes to go through layers of loss. With all the knowledge I had as a psychology teacher and therapist, I was unprepared for such a tough journey.
A lot of things were left unsaid in the literature. With around 50 professional hours on the subject and personal study, I have written another manuscript ready to find a publisher. I am putting together a “Working Through Grief” handbook that touches on many different aspects of grieving any loss.
Through writing every day, I made an important discovery: I really liked to write. I have always enjoyed teaching, but now have another way to share my training and personal experiences. It has become the basis of my “platform” – helping individuals heal from life’s traumas, early childhood wounding and other loss.
What were the difficulties? Expressing difficult emotions, while writing specifically and eliminating unnecessary words. Questions to ask while writing from your own perspective are: will this benefit the reader? In what way? What will they take away from your personal story of benefit in their life story?
What can you add to make the story more meaningful without losing authenticity? What can you leave out? Writing and rewriting was the difficult part – making the story complete without being burdensome to read. At times I struggled with my emotional voice in order to keep the book grammatically correct.
What would I recommend to writers of non-fiction, especially emotionally difficult subjects? Don’t write about anything that you are not personally knowledgeable. Writing about grief and loss without personal experience can end up sterile and academic. But it also needs to be more than just “your experience”. Is your topic something others go through? How will your story help them?
Besides knowing the subject matter personally, how does your knowledge match with existing research data? As a counselor, I often cringe when I read Christian authors write about things with only a biblical or personal slant. There is a reason God gave us the science of psychology just as he did physical medicine.
Marlene is a licensed counselor, author, speaker, and retreat and workshop leader. She has worked in both clinical and educational settings as a college teacher, therapist and facilitator of psycho-educational classes. She has been a member of NCWA since 2007. For more about Marlene, visit her website or visit her blogs: Healing From Losses and The Counselor is In . She is a contributing writer to Author Haven.